16th Day: Ornament Traditions

You know your kid is the son of an officer when he attempts to dress in his own scrabbled together dress blues when I tell him we want to take a nice picture.

The sixteenth day we spent some time doing my favorite annual tradition: ornaments!

I use to dream of having a perfectly coordinated and classic looking tree.  Over the years that dream has changed and I have grown to love the stories ornaments tell with time.

It first started on a small-scale when Brad and I celebrated our first Christmas together in 2007.  We commemorated the day with a photo ornament.  Since then, we have added a photo each year as a sort of evolving photo album.  From young college sweethearts to new parents and now with two young children and a very obvious third on the way.  This year we got a fun snow globe photo ornament from Bentleyville!  I love looking at our growing collection, it’s hard to believe it’s been so many Christmases together.

Photo Ornament 2016

It’s fun to look back at how far we’ve come and dream about how the pictures will change in the future

We also have an ongoing tradition with the kids.  We obviously adore photo ornaments, so we always do a photo ornament for a “baby’s first Christmas” memento.  After their first year, we let them pick out any ornament they want.  The idea behind this is that it kind of keeps track of their interest that year.  When they get old enough to have their own homes and trees, they can take their ornament collections and look back on the memories of past years.  Brad and I plan on still buying them ornaments annually as adults to commemorate their year.

Marshall’s collection

Vi’s collection

With Marshall’s birthday being in the fall and Vi’s being in late summer, I have never been this pregnant during Christmas time.  We wanted to include Francesca in the story of our tree, so we got a bit crafty.

Just need some modge podge, flat clay ornament, scissors, pen (for tracing to cut out), brush, and the picture of your choice.

I used the modge podge to adhere Francesca’s ultrasound photo to the ornament and then put a few coats of it on top to act as a sealant.  It didn’t take very much time or effort and we’re Pretty happy with the finished product.

Love at first sight, Francesca Corinne 2016

Placing our newest child’s ornament on the tree really was special.  It’s incredible to think about.  Christmas 2013 was very hard, we suffered two pregnancy losses by that holiday season.  Brad gave me an angel wing heart ornament so I could feel our lost babies presence.   Then 2014 came and- just before I found out I was pregnant- I was pretty discouraged.  Brad surprised me with a rainbow ornament to remind me to keep up hope and that we would get our rainbow after the storm.  Finally, in 2015 we were able to add another “baby’s first” ornament for our little Wildflower, Violet.  And now we find ourselves blessed beyond measure to be expecting an amazing winter gift, another healthy daughter.

A story of deep sorrow turning to complete joy in just four Christmases

I had to play around with the positioning of the ornaments, of course, and put the three pictures of our children together.  We feel so lucky to be their parents.  It’s an honor to make these traditions and memories with them.

Marshall Alexander (2011), Violet Angeline (2015), and Francesca Corinne (2016 ultrasound/ 2017 birth)

And so we closed out our sixteenth day.  It wasn’t as flashy or detailed as past days or future celebrations we have planned, but it was full of what the holidays are for us. It’s about our family, about spending time together and making memories, commemorating them.  Our tree isn’t perfectly manicured and coordinated.  It tells the story of our life, our family.  Be it the very literal annual pictures or the representative ornaments, it shows our highs and lows and the beauty that is carried in the unexpected.  That is surely something to celebrate.


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